The Most Important Skills You Need To Succeed As An Entrepreneur

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If an academic qualification is all it takes to succeed in business, then more people would be entrepreneurs. You and I know this is not the case. Success in the real world requires much more than the things we were taught in school.

In this article, I share the most important skills that most successful entrepreneurs around the world have learned and mastered. These skills are not just essential for entrepreneurship. As you’re about to find out, they’re also important in everyday life.

1) Negotiation

In my opinion, negotiation should be given the same importance as Mathematics, and should be taught from as early as primary school. Negotiation is such an important skill in life that I just do not understand why we have to learn this skill on our own outside of school.

Whether you’re negotiating an employee’s salary or your office rent, or trying to get a customer to pay a certain price, or trying to find common ground with a banker or investor regarding the amount of interest or return they would get by giving you a loan or investing in your business, your negotiation skills are important.

Your ability to negotiate can mean the difference between saving or losing a lot of money on a single business transaction.

2) Selling and Persuasion

Every business exists to sell a product or service. That’s how money is made. And if you cannot persuade customers to buy whatever you’re selling, then you don’t have a business.

Selling and persuasion are two important skills that most successful entrepreneurs have in common.  They know how to sell their vision and ideas to partners, employees, customers and investors. Even outside business, we constantly have to persuade our parents, spouse, children, friends and neighbours in order to win them over.

Fortunately, like most skills, selling and persuasion can be learned through study and constant practice. You can learn it, apply it, and master it, just like most successful entrepreneurs have.

The three books that helped me a lot in this area are How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

3) Money

If you’re going to survive for long in business, financial literacy and intelligence is a must. You must be skillful at making, spending, keeping and growing money. You must know that revenues are not the same thing as profits, and your personal spending must be different and separate from your business spending

And often, having good money skills goes beyond being good at maths. Financial literacy often requires thrift, diligence and delayed gratification. It often means that you know when to save and when to spend; and resisting the temptation go on a shopping spree once your business shows the first signs of success.

Two of the most interesting books I have read on this subject are Richard Templar’s The Rules of Money – How to Make it and Hold on to it, and Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

4) Decision Making

The ability to make decisions, even when you don’t have all the information you need, is a distinctive skill that most successful entrepreneurs have. They are willing to take a decision and do something rather than wait until they are 100 percent certain, like most of us would.

In business, it doesn’t really matter how much you know, think, plan or analyse. The people who become successful in the real world are those who can take decisions and take action. Your ability to take bold decisions both in good times and in times of crisis can be a major advantage.

It happens there are a number of techniques and rules that can help you become a more effective decision maker. One good book that has helped me in this area is Stephen Covey’s classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

5) Leadership

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I’m sure you may have heard that before. And more importantly, leadership begins with self-leadership. Before you can successfully lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

Starting and running a business is a huge responsibility. Depending on the size of your business, several people will be depending on you, including you. The quality of relationships you have with your customers, employees, investors, business partners, and suppliers will be largely determined by the quality of leadership you can demonstrate.

Leadership is actually a combination of several different qualities. Self-motivation, self-belief, discipline, personal responsibility, integrity, communication, vision, commitment and emotional intelligence are just some of the most critical elements that define a leader.

There are several interesting books on leadership and it’s definitely one of those skills that get better with practice. One good book that helped is John Maxwell’s 360-Degree Leader – Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organisation.

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The skills shared in this article will undoubtedly help you mature into a better and more rounded entrepreneur. However, you will not get there in one fell swoop. Learning from your own experiences and the experiences of others will take you far.

But just like every other skill, you will get better with practice.

2018 is an opportunity to grow your business through deep insights from industry leaders. But how do you access such information?

As part of its new campaign, British Council Enterprise is connecting entrepreneurs with digital skills, industry connections and top-class business resources they need to start and scale their businesses.  Enjoy our special British Council Enterprise content here. Stay up to date on new British Council Enterprise projects on the Enterprise Projects page.

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